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Aug 19, 201412:39 PMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Ferguson, Mo., is where liberal racism went to die

(page 1 of 2)

Like the O.J. Simpson jury, the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., is a litmus test of the two Americas — the personally responsible versus the chronic victim.

An 18-year-old black man is gunned down with his hands raised in surrender at the hand of a racist white police officer of a militarized occupying power. From that initial narrative, catnip for the mainstream news media, the story keeps getting walked back.

The police officer had a blameless record. The young man had just boosted a box of cigars and strong-armed the store manager. He was walking down the middle of the street and possibly made a play for the officer’s weapon.

Never mind. “The Coming Race War Won’t Be About Race,” Time magazine assures. “… it’s about class warfare, and how America’s poor are held back.”

Or holding themselves back. Stealing a box of cigars from a convenience store is not a path to success.

That a private autopsy shows that Michael Brown was shot six times hardly proves police misconduct but instead suggests that he did not stand down but — perhaps fueled by drugs — kept coming.

  • Let us stipulate that Michael Brown did not deserve to die for boosting stogies (he knew even if the officer did not).
  • It is inexcusable for a police force of 53 to employ only three black officers in a community that is 70% black.
  • Nor is there any excuse for the looting and vandalism. No excuse for throwing rocks and incendiaries.

But the liberal-progressive-socialist critique that the people of Ferguson, Mo., are victims of the white power structure is wrong. It is destructive. It is causation.

“A community already suffering the loss of one of its own found their town occupied by what appeared to be a paramilitary force,” The Nation magazine spins.

But those armored vehicles so gleefully exaggerated by editorial cartoonists kill no one; the armor protects the police within from the firepower of miscreants armed with so-called street sweepers. No police chief or sheriff expects his force to take a bullet for the cause. At the very least, an officer protected by armor would have that much less of an excuse to shoot.

It is worth considering that a local crime rate — nearly five times the national average — killed Michael Brown just as surely as that officer’s firearm. Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal interviewed New York Police Chief William Bratton, practitioner of the “broken windows” school of policing:

Broken windows stresses that endemic criminality is not primarily a function of the usual “root causes” — poverty, racism, bad schools, broken families, and so on. The real problem is disorder itself.

“Disorder and crime are usually inextricably linked, in a kind of developmental sequence,” [Milwaukee native George] Kelling observed in a seminal 1982 Atlantic magazine article, co-written with the late James Q. Wilson. The mere appearance of disorder — graffiti, broken windows, an abandoned car, drug dealers or prostitutes openly plying their trades — creates a sense that nobody’s looking, nobody cares, nobody is in charge. Bad guys respond to these environmental cues by acting badly. Good people stay off the street, bolt their doors, move out.

Yes, walking down the middle of a busy street is one such warning sign that this is the Wild West. Anything goes.

I have written extensively about the breakdown of comity in a particular Madison neighborhood where liberal-minded residents were encouraged to make excuses for deteriorating behavior. (“Crime comes to a Madison neighborhood.”) I am a huge fan of broken windows policing, as was past Madison Police Chief Noble Wray. But let’s take it a step further.

Yes, some of us were dealt poor cards — historical racism, poverty, disability. But waiting for government to right your ship is like waiting for Godot. We’re observing the 50th anniversary of Big Liberalism’s War on Poverty, and we’ve got Ferguson, Mo., in 2014?

Life, as none other than Jimmy Carter once said, is not fair. It is unfair that some may have to put in extra effort to get where others already are. But isn’t that the history of America?

Did Michael Brown deserve to die? Of course not. Neither did the young Madison man — spectacularly drunk — who went for a policeman’s gun several years ago. White on white. But stupid behavior is risky behavior. Don’t fight with a man pointing a gun at you.


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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Aug 19, 2014 09:26 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Yes, Blaska. Black Americans ought to be doing this or that. Sez you, right? Well, what are you doing about it? Please don't say your actions are limited to writing on this website, because that would be like trying to prevent forest fires by blowing out a candle in your downtown apartment.

Aug 20, 2014 09:20 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Good point,

tired of blaska complaining with no solutions at hand.

sort of the conservative way.

Aug 20, 2014 09:58 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Progressive Democrats own every ghetto in America as political turf. This is the legacy of left wing, big nanny state politics: dependency, crime, murder, drugs, horrible schools and a 73% illegitimate birth rate.

Want to create a cesspool of misery in an otherwise prosperous nation? Let Democrats run a city for a few decades and you end up with minorities trapped on the liberal plantation. For good measure, make sure you have enough race hustlers (Sharpton, Jackson, Obama types) in the mix to stir the pot and blame Whitey every chance they get.

As far as Progressive martyr Mike "Thuggy" Brown is concerned, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Aug 20, 2014 10:09 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Sadly none of this would need to happen if we all would just respect one another and choose to be kind to one another. We don't walk in the shoes of either of the individuals involved and thus should not be rushing to judgment. A life was needlessly lost because as it appears both were trying to impose power over another. To live on this planet we must learn to get along with one another. There is no other way we can live in peace and harmony. In saying that we also have to adopt an attitude that we are all in this together and we need to help each other. We do this by picking somebody up when they are down not walking over or around them or by ignoring them but by offering them our hand up! The growing inequality in this country cannot be allowed to continue or the entire country will become one giant Ferguson.

Aug 20, 2014 10:24 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Why should Blaska "do something about it"? How can he convince people to stop their substance abuse, violent street crime, and whining self pity? Isn't it the job of the black community and their individual members to do something about it? But then again, snitches get stitches. So life goes on and those EBT cards, Section 8 housing, free bus passes, and subsidized sundry items keep the boats afloat.

Keep the rage alive, folks. Why have a non-violent protest when you can bust store windows and get some Air Jordans and a few bottles of liquor?

Aug 20, 2014 10:35 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Anon 10:09,

Really? "...both were trying to impose power over another."

Isn't a police officer's duty to impose state sanctioned power over people who break laws, i.e. walking in the middle of a busy street? Maybe when your daughter is assaulted a cop will give the perp a nice warm hug. Wouldn't want him to impose power, just good vibes.

Aug 20, 2014 12:12 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

This video, posted today on Gawker, shows a police officer in Ferguson pointing his semi-automatic rifle in the face of peaceful protesters and saying "I will [curse word] kill you." Ah, guns and shooting.

Anon at 10:24: I'm interested in where your perspective on what the "black community" is up to comes from. From your laughably ignorant comment here, I get the impression you don't get out much.

Aug 20, 2014 04:52 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

"Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don't want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you," writes a 17-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department. No doubt a white racist? Oh, wait, his name is Sunil Dutta. (He goes on to say if the arrest is illegal, that's what the courts and civil rights attorneys are for.) Well, isn't that what you'd advise your son or daughter to do? Let's hear it from our liberal-progressive-socialist acquaintances.

Aug 20, 2014 07:56 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Anon 12:12, I get my perspective from working in state corrections for many years. I am out in the "community" every day so, yes I do get out--a lot.

Aug 21, 2014 09:24 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

You're taking a lot of liberties with the facts here, Blaska. The response to this event has been mostly peaceful. The response of law enforcement has been criminally militant. The biggest crime: A coordinated response on the part of Ferguson cops to keep journalists from recording the events.

Now, for a First Amendment scholar like yourself, that speaks volumes, does it not? Perhaps you'd rather have the reality of what Ferguson cops are doing to peacefully protesting, tax paying citizens kept under wraps, but I think that's a minority view. And no, I don't trust the cops to ethically handle their business here just like I don't trust their account of the story.

Somehow, that's a view of "big gummint" that you don't really care about. Why not? When the Koch Bros are inconvenienced, you're suddenly Thomas Jefferson. But when cops are launching full scale military offensives against people who are calling for a full investigation into the shooting of an unarmed teen in their community (How dare they? Just do what the cops tell you and you'll be fine!) by an arm of the government, you don't express the same passion for Constitutional protections.

I wonder why that is. My guess is because the people of Ferguson whose rights are being trampled don't fill the R oval on their ballots.

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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